Áine Kenny gives you the perfect date ideas for this winter season.
The leaves are turning their varying shades of gold, red and brown, and hat and scarf weather has officially set in. Festive dates are one of the best parts about winter. Whether you are hitting the town with someone your friends set you up with, meeting that 10/10 you matched with on Tinder, or having a date night with your significant other, a good date can turn into a lovely memory. Here are my top six date ideas for the chillier seasons.

1. A cosy pub.

Nothing beats a pint in a traditional pub accompanied by a roaring fire. Choose a pub that does food as you can have a meal before you start drinking. My personal favourites are The Front Door in Galway and Swagman’s in Sligo - they have the perfect combination of food and drink! Live music in pubs also add some atmosphere. Pubs usually aren’t nearly as loud as a nightclub so you will actually be able to have a conversation with your date. If you are too nervous to ask them out for a date on their own, you could even get a group to go to the pub - this is a good way to meet their friends and see how they interact with yours.

2. The cinema.

A classic when it comes to date night. If you don’t know your date very well it could be a good idea to go to the cinema before you decide to head for a meal with them. Once you are out of the film, you’ll have plenty to discuss about the acting and the storyline, and it will ease you into natural conversation. If you are a bit strapped for cash, most cinemas do a student deal one night a week- a ticket, a medium popcorn and a medium drink are around €8 in total. Not sure what to see? Check out our weekly guide. 

3. Hillwalking.

For the more adventurous couples out there hillwalking could be a different sort of date. Most counties in Ireland have walkways which are mapped out and signposted for convenience. Make sure to have walking boots or runners with good grip, and a decent rain jacket. Woodland walks are a particular favourite of mine, usually the trees shelter you from the wind and rain. Bring a picnic blanket, a thermos flask and a packed lunch to eat at the picturesque viewpoints. Make sure to take lots of pictures!

4. Art galleries and museums.

Most larger towns have a county museum and cities like Dublin have multiple art galleries and museums, most of which are free to the public. Mayo’s Country Life museum and the National Gallery in Dublin are my two favourites. If you are a history buff, have an interest in art, and have a long attention span museums and art galleries are definitely for you. They are also perfect for those rainy days in autumn where there is nothing do to outside. Make sure to ask your date if they like galleries and museums first- some people find them boring.

5. Ice-skating.

When it gets a bit closer to November, all the real winter activities will be on offer, and some are ideal for couples. A lot of towns in Ireland have pop-up ice rinks where you can rent boots and you get an hour on the ice, usually for less than €15. Make sure to wrap up warm and wear fluffy socks to prevent blisters. Ice skating can be fun if you’re good at it, and it helps if your partner has more experience than you. If neither of you have been to an ice rink before, you may just end up holding onto the edge, shuffling awkwardly, clinging to each other for balance. At least you’ll have an excuse for a bit of handholding!

6. Christmas market.

After you are finished skating, you can head to a Christmas market. These markets contain merry-go-rounds, carnival games where you can win teddy bears, and artisan food stalls and some interesting home-made crafts. Make sure to go to the Galway Christmas market. The Man of Aran fudge is exquisite, and there is always craic to be had in the beer tent.